New South Wales

Mr John Gore described how civics and citizenship in New South Wales is delivered through the Board of Studies syllabuses

  • K-6 Human Society and Its Environment
  • 7-10 History (unsure of exactly where civics and citizenship fits)
  • 7-10 Geography

Professional development is based on the following principles

  • cross sectoral
  • building on current practice
  • links to curriculum
  • enabling teacher professional development
  • sustainability/ongoing
  • transferability
  • dissemination of best practice

Mr Mark Askew described the local workshops which were held in strategic regional locations, providing an opportunity for all NSW teachers to access.

Ms Kate Cameron described the Advanced Professional Development Program which has

  • units on Introduction to Discovering Democracy, the K6 Syllabus, content needed for the units, teaching strategies
  • incorporated partnerships – universities, teachers, professional associations
  • a K-6 focus
  • provided an opportunity for post graduate study

Evaluation of the Program indicates teachers appreciated the opportunity to ‘fill in gaps’ in knowledge, develop heightened strategies awareness, working with groups, having practical and useful information

The Schools Initiative Grants involved

  • working with 20 schools in a pilot round
  • schools receiving $5000 in funding
  • development of school based units
  • principles of effective civics and citizenship teaching
  • an expectation of involving another 100 schools in the further rounds

The programs at the Curan Primary school and James Meehan school and the Presbyterian ladies College, Armidale were described.

In the next round there will be some targeting of students with special needs and isolated students.

The ABC web site – a gateway to civics education is being investigated as a means of raising awareness.

Western Australia

Ms Geraldine Ditchburn reminded participants of the challenges associated with professional development and geographical distances in Western Australia. The program therefore centred on 37 experienced teachers being recommended by sectors, and trained to work with other teachers. Trainers are provided with a small budget and some money for teacher release. The target is to reach 500/600 schools.

Complications include large of administrative time in setting up, current curriculum changes, isolation, and becoming familiar with all the Discovering Democracy units.


Mr Peter Miller, Mr Richard Dunlop and Mr Murray Campbell noted that

  • Queensland has had three governments in the last eight years and this is difficult for curriculum development
  • changes can cause a loss of ‘goodwill’ and loss of ‘corporate memory’
  • the professional development program for Discovering Democracy is based on a decentralised model, using 100 teachers to facilitate meetings
  • there is a recognition that the program is enhancing a lot of excellent work already happening
  • the materials will link in some respects with the new SOSE syllabus for general implementation in 2000
  • the AFSSSE focus group comments are being used to assist in the design of professional development
  • the professional development plan includes the Open Learning Subject 2: Education for Citizenship being offered to teachers
  • details of the professional development program are in the Forum papers.


THE WAY FORWARD: Questions to the panel

      The questions were formulated after all participants worked in small groups to decide the most pressing issues.


    There seems to be a lot of discussion about the definitions of ‘civics’ and ‘citizenship’; ‘participation v knowledge’. Do you see this as a problem?

    Answer – Dr Hirst

    Not an acute problem. Some of the Discovering Democracy materials fall under ‘civics’. The intention is to have a broad understanding. There are lots of examples of ‘citizenship’ happening in schools so there is not such a need to include this in the materials. Citizenship is something that can be pursued vicariously – watch over people’s actions eg Freedom Rides. Emotional attachment to campaigns builds citizenship.

    Answer – Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    Clearly there are many different definitions and this will continue.

    Audience member

    ‘Vicariously learned citizenship’ is not what many teachers want. Students learn best by doing rather than learning about.

    Dr Hirst

    Do both.


    There has been discussion on the spirit/tone of the Discovering Democracy materials. Are the materials ‘sexy’ enough. Do they excite the learner? Are they active enough?

    Answer – Mr Noel Simpson

    Many people are inspired by what is already happening in schools. The timing is quite sweet given the approach of the centenary of Federation. Professional development has begun even though the materials are not yet available. Civics and citizenship is opening up and being discussed more as part of the curriculum. The units will be a valuable resource to add to this momentum. It is good that we now have a raised awareness of civics and citizenship education.

    A Principal’s view

    Civics and citizenship education is not just starting to happen, rather the project has flagged experts and encouraged history awareness. Yes, it is good to get excited about the coming materials, but schools are looking at how much we have done, not how little we have done re civics and citizenship education.


    Professional development – is the mix right? Are we going beyond the ‘front line’? Are we matching strategies and resources? Have we included pedagogy?

    Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    In my ideal world the budget would have been done differently. There would be more dollars on professional development and fewer on developing resources. Activism is now more common given the political climate and students and teachers are ready to move on using available and often local resources. It would be a better use of money to use existing resources. However, we are now getting people together to decide how to use these materials, and this is important – so long as we remember we are not talking about a course, but rather the sharing of ideas. In essence, we need a commitment to more professional development, not more materials.

    Mr Noel Simpson

    From 1999 onwards, there will be more on professional development and less on resources for this particular project.

    Chair Mr Tony Mackay

    The depth and sustainability of professional development is a significant issue. If it is to work we need strategic partnerships – parents, community groups must be included.

    Parent view

    It is too simple to say we need to ‘involve parents’. There needs to be a real partnership.

    Audience member

    I would like the door to be left open for more material to be developed.

    Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    More materials may be relevant in the future.


    Some people have suggested that it is important for the materials to be ‘customised’ to meet the needs of the user. Have the materials already been changed given feedback received by Curriculum Corporation?

    Ms Sue Ferguson

    AFSSSE is to be commended for their project. The information collected at the teacher focus group meetings has been very valuable. The teachers made open and frank comments, and this was received seriously. This was a professional development for all people involved in the development of the materials. Many changes have been made. Of course there are still some deficiencies, especially when considering ESL students and indigenous students. Next year there will be a review of the units to decide how these needs can be met. There may be a need for more research work with more participation on the part of the students. The materials are not meant to be used in total by all students.

    Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    As teachers ‘customise’ the materials to suit their local conditions, it is important that we share this information. Provision has been made for AFSSSE to be involved in this sharing process.


    Some people have expressed a concern that ‘customising’ means matching the materials to curriculum in the states/territories.

    Ms Sue Ferguson

    Each unit indicates how it might fit with the state/territory syllabuses.

    Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    Questions of matching will be a concern until we see the final product.

    Audience member

    In NSW it is good that the final materials are not yet available. The 20 project schools have not had a ‘materials focus’ so different means of reaching outcomes has been possible. It is better the resource is not available to drive the curriculum.


    It has been suggested that there be some information communicated about the materials as they are being delivered. It is important the materials are not misplaced. How will this occur?

    Ms Sue Ferguson

    The centre section of EQ, Issue 3, Spring 1998, has a summary of what will be received. Teachers are encouraged to remove this, place it on a notice board and look for the arrival of material. Schools only receive one kit, but additional copies will be provided to professional development officers, parent groups, history associations, the AFSSSE Board members will receive 2 sets each. It is hoped professional associations will place notice of the materials to arrive in their journals. Curriculum Corporation will provide flyers if necessary.

    Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    It would be helpful if associations other than the history teachers’ associations received copies. Other affiliate AFSSSE groups could use copies.


    Is the message about program being heard in wider circles? For example student participation in contemporary issues, new technologies being used?

    Ms Prue Gillies

    Parents are very supportive, but some of the more sinister views will prevail – for example, not wanting teachers to have views. Communication is important. Principals need to be alerted to the arrival of material, and create an environment that links parents, community groups and the school.

    Dr Hirst

    People should be amazed and excited about the diversity in the materials and the diversity in current practice.

    Ms Jo-Anne Cameron

    When Anne Witheford spoke at the Voices of Youth session, she gave a description of a student with privileged background – working with privileged teachers who have been active in providing learning experiences in civics and citizenship. Some teachers are not so privileged so we need the materials to support these teachers.


    There is some concern that teachers can’t teach without showing their bias. It seems that parents generally support teachers in their own school, and only worry about what is happening ‘down the road’.


    Important to continue civic conversation. Need more opportunities to gather, but perhaps next time we need a more interactive gathering so practice can be shared.


Professor Kerry Kennedy closed the conference with the following comments:

  • We need to keep asking why ‘civics education’ can’t be participatory, relevant and meaningful just like ‘citizenship education’.
  • We need an informed debate about content/process/civics/citizenship.
  • We need to consider pre-service education.

Other sites

Australian Principals Association Professional Development Council

  • Information Kit to support implementation issues

Open Learning Australia


Other sites

  • http://www/ for the ABC’s The Good Citizen – Australian Democracy and Citizenship radio service


Copyright © 2004  AFSSSE